Random things

Shoulder/Arm Pain Update

Had my first session yesterday with Howard Nemerov. The easiest way to describe it was that it was massage but more than massage. What I can say is it hurt.ūüôā ¬†But it was good hurt, and it really showed where I have some problems. A big one? Pectoralis minor is hugely tight. Oh lawdy lawdy that hurt to be treated, but that’s pretty indicative of problems. But¬†after the treatment and even this morning (18-ish hours removed from the treatment) I feel much better. Range of motion is noticeably improved. Pain isn’t present, but too soon to tell as the pain can come and go.

Seriously. Even right now as I write this, making the “air squat” position with my hands, like where my hands and arms would be holding the bar on my back for squatting? I feel no pain, no stretching, no tightness. Very telling where the tension was, and how severe it was.

What will be interesting will be Monday when I squat and Tuesday when I bench. We’ll see what happens.

Howard is away next week, so I go to see him again in essentially 2 weeks. Meantime I will just continue to exercise and stretch. Given what came out of the session, I’m going to work to find stretches to target my¬†pectoralis minor, upper traps (just a lot of head circles and deeper “rotations” and range of motion stuff can help me there), and such. I’ll also see about doing some direct work in¬†those areas, like with a lacrosse ball.

To be totally honest, it makes me think about making massage a normal part of my routine. I know¬†people do this, but I just hadn’t thought about how impactful it would be on my specific situation. But it sure gives me something to think about.

Gun Stuff

Next weekend, Citizens Defense Research will be in town teaching their Armed Parent class. Looking forward to it.

I was actually concerned if I could perform given all the pain I was in. But feeling how I feel now? I¬†expect I’ll be alright. TBD.

Lifting – PR

Looking at how the calendar falls, my current thinking:

Let the 5-week and 3-week be as normal. Push¬†myself as normal, get the rep PRs, but if I have to, err on being conservative. I want to save for the last week. And so the 1+ week will not be a traditional 1+ week. I will warm up, then take some larger singles, working up to¬†a 1RM and what I hope will be a PR. It won’t be all in one day, like a mock meet. It will just be the normal days, working to 1RM, then doing some light assistance work afterwards and calling it a day.

Months ago when I started to work on rebuilding my strength, I told myself to stick with the program and just keep working, no testing. I allowed myself to test at the end of the year, which is now.

On squat, my best is 325#, which was some time ago.¬†The Defattening Project gave my squat a big hit and has been the hardest thing to rebuild.¬†Last cycle did 310 for 4. I expect matching 325 is do-able. I don’t need the PR to be massive, just breaking, so¬†right now my goal is 330. If I can nail that, awesome. I may go for 335 because “plate math”, if things¬†are feeling awesome as I work up. But really, a 5# PR is still a PR.¬†And to be totally honest? so long as I squat 315 (3 plates), I’m happy.

On bench my best is 255#, which was also some time ago (tho squat was even further back). While I lost some upper body strength in The Defattening, it seems I didn’t lose as much as lower body (relatively speaking). Last cycle I did 245, but only for 2 reps because of the pain; but on the 3-week I did 235 for 8 reps. So I expect as long as pain isn’t in the equation, 260-265 is achievable. Part of me would love to see about 275 because “2.5 plates” would be cool. But I’m going to bench what I can bench and get a solid PR – not “plate coolness”.

On deadlift, my best is 445#. Not only¬†does this go back to the lower-body losses during Defattening, but I have also been working to improve my deadlift technique so it does have more leg/hip drive and less back — i.e. it’s not one big stiff-leg. I actually wonder if I could meet/break my PR if I just threw all into the wind, but I’m not going to go there. That said, I’m not expecting to PR here. I just want to work up and hit whatever I can hit, breaking at least 405.

And press. Heck, I’ve already PR’d there last week with a lifetime best of 170×3. Wouldn’t 185 be cool here? But at this point I really don’t care as every lift is just gravy.ūüôā

So there we go.

Lifting – Beyond

I let myself get a little too fluffy. The weight I had gained wasn’t¬†too out of line all things considered, but since¬†before Halloween (read: candy in the house), I’ve indulged a little too much. To combat it, right now I’m keeping the proteins and fats as usual, but restricting carbs to morning. So breakfast, lunch, etc. I eat as I have been, but after lunch I try to avoid extra carbs. I mean, if Wife makes something for supper and it’s going to be a little carby (e.g. stew) I don’t sweat it. I’m just talking extras like I don’t need to put rice on my plate, nor do I need to have ice cream afterwards.

It’s a reasonable protocol to make it easy for me to keep things in check, and I hope that by the end of the year gets me back to a more reasonable starting point.

Because yes, the plan is to have the PR-week, then take a week completely off and enjoy the holidays. After that, it’s change-up to the lifting and getting a new set of Renaissance Periodization cutting diet¬†templates. I want to spend about 12-ish weeks on a cut and shed all that I can, 10-20#, hopefully closer to that 20.

Lifting will support that protocol. I still want to stay on the general track tho towards my goal of 3/4/5. What I am going to consider¬†doing tho is allowing myself a longer road towards that goal. I¬†don’t mind if I put on a little fat, but getting fluffy and flat out fat again is out of the question. What I think could work, especially as long as I’m doing 5/3/1, is have my weight reset, then spend 2-4 months¬†with the lighter weights and cutting. Then as the weights get heavier, 2-4 months with the heavier weights and massing. Which then ought to take me right up to another reset; lather, rinse, repeat. I don’t know if this will work, or if it does what sorts of results I’ll get. My hope is that I can continue to make some level of progress in the gym, but also work to keep my weight in check because both matter to me.

Time will tell.

Whiskey

Bulleit Rye.

So damn good.

2016-12-02 training log

Here endeth the deload week.

I’m glad I took it as I think my body appreciated it. I’ve been working on posture, additional and specific mobility and rehab work on my arms/shoulders, adjusted a few things in my office so I can sit better during the day, and my shoulders/arms are feeling better. I’m also going to start seeing someone today to get some body work done in hopes that aids the process. We shall see.

Things felt good today, and I’m really looking forward to this next cycle. I’m starting to think that the 1+ week will actually wind up being a testing week and not a true 1+ week. I’m good with that, as it caps things off, then lets me take the week between Christmas and New Years to just relax, stay out of the gym, and get myself ready for the gear change.

In specific, I really am liking the Arnold Press. Again, if I focus on not pressing the weight — which mentally shifts focus to the arms and pushing the weight up — but instead focus as if it’s about rotating at the shoulder, contracting the anterior delt and upper back muscles to rotate upwards, MAN… that works things so different and nice. That shift in how you execute makes a huge difference.

Same with the chest-supported rows. Really works things well when you focus on the back and moving “from the shoulders/elbows”.

So to that, my thinking towards the gear change — about being more hypertrophy focused to combat the cut diet — about trying to really focus more on the muscles, really try to take more of a bodybuilding mentality. It’s going to be challenging, but I suspect I’ll get more out of it if I do. I find this mentality creeping into my work now, and it sure works things differently. Good stuff.

5/3/1-based program

  • Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 70 x 5
    • 70 x 5
    • 90 x 5
    • 90 x 5
    • 110 x 5
    • 110 x 5
  • Arnold Press
    • 45e x 10
    • 45e x 10
    • 45e x 10
  • Chest Supported DB Rows
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 12
  • Straight-arm Lat Pulldowns
    • 60 x 12
    • 60 x 12
  • Cable Lateral Raises
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 12
  • Machine Triceps
    • 85 x 15
    • 85 x 15
  • DB Curls (alternate, neutral-to-supinated hand while curling)
    • 35e x 12
    • 35e x 11

2016-12-01 training log

Nothing to write home about. It’s deloading.

I did mess up on the top-sets tho. Was to do 230, did 260 – data entry typo.ūüôā

In other news, I am going to start seeing someone tomorrow about my shoulder/arm issues. Again, the more I investigate and discuss the issue, the more I am sure it’s shoulder/upper-back issues. I also am growing in support of the notion that posture has been the silent contributor, and lifting just exposed it. So I’m really working to address posture issues, throughout my day.

For example, I’m going to see if I can rearrange some things in my office so I can perhaps stand part of the day. While one can still slouch a bit while standing, it’s nothing as bad as one can get while sitting.

The main problem for me is sticking with it. I often have these cycles of posture fail then posture correct, repeat. I need to make this a constant. I have to work on it. I have to improve on it, probably more so than getting my lifting numbers up, y’know?

5/3/1-based program

  • Deadlift
    • 150 x 5
    • 150 x 5
    • 190 x 5
    • 190 x 5
    • 260 x 5
    • 260 x 5
  • Walking Lunges
    • 40 x 10e
    • 40 x 10e
  • Leg Curls
    • 45 x 12
    • 45 x 12
  • Twisting Crunches
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 20
  • Seated Calf Raises
    • 65 x 12
    • 65 x 12

Winter is coming

For us in the northern hemisphere, winter is coming. Temperatures are dropping, and for most of us that means clothing changes.

If you carry some sort of self-defense tool: gun, taser, pepper spray, knife, whatever (and maybe you carry a combination of those), can you still access that tool quickly and effectively with your change of clothing?

Are you wearing more layers of clothing?

Are you now wearing a heavy coat? That you close?

Are you wearing gloves?

Take some time to practice with your change in attire. Make sure it all still works for you.

How many rounds to carry?

Data is good, and I always appreciate Claude’s collection and analysis of it.

tacticalprofessor

That question came up on a Facebook group I’m a member of recently. In response, I referenced my Armed Citizen database. The question was asked about my methodology, which is a fair question. I’ll address it my forthcoming eBook about the Armed Citizen but I want to first post the Introduction, which addresses the journey I have made about the Armed Citizen and my analyses thereof.

Introduction

This book is the result of the overlap of several very widely different topics and experiences. As is often the case, as more information comes to light over time, perceptions can change.

During my time in the Army, I held several different intelligence (S2) positions. These largely involved information collection and analysis duties, not ‚Äėspyguy‚Äô stuff. The purpose of Intelligence in the military and government is always to facilitate decision-making. Having to provide and defend a cogent analysis of not only the information‚Ķ

View original post 1,342 more words

2016-11-29 training log

My shoulder/arm issues flared up a little bit today. For sure, pressing seems to hit it more. But is it truly pressing? or is it that the weight is directly upon those areas? Again, like with squats, if I grip the bar in a manner that doesn’t put weight on my arms (e.g. elbows back instead of under the bar), no real issues.

That all said, it’s made me think about a way to manage it a bit.

I’m thinking about keeping the general 5/3/1 progression, but changing the rep scheme to be more like Paul Carter’s 5,4,3,2,1 approach. Yes, then it’s not truly 5/3/1 but that’s fine. I would keep the sets and weight progressions the same, but swap Paul’s rep scheme for Jim’s. So of the 5 basic sets, it’d be 5/4/3/2/1, then the 6th set would remain a PR set with the goal of at least prescribed reps but more if I’m feeling good. When you step back and look at the way Jim and Paul program things respectively, they really are very close and I think this could be workable. The intention here is to see if reduction in volume helps minimize aggrevation of the issue, yet still getting work in, y’know?

This would just be for bench press, at least right now. I don’t feel a need to do this for anything else, tho press might get it if it winds up being an issue as well (tho so far pressing hasn’t been, which is curious). Going to try it for this next 3-week cycle and see how it goes, then I’ll see what happens after that (because things will be changing anyways due to cutting diet).

Anyways, apart from that it’s just a deload day.

But I did start to think a little more about my programming on the cut. I’m thinking about taking an approach based around the 5/3/1 Powerlifting “off-season for mass” approach, tho perhaps not strictly that book template. Reason is, I will get more out of things like lunges than leg press, so it’s not about the template as much as the underlying philosophy. And I am thinking about reducing to 3x/week because I recall from prior cuts that it was nice to “pare back” then give myself somewhere to go later on in the cut when things got harder. So with 3 days that means 3 days of “eating” and 4 of reduced intake. When things cut back pretty hard, then I can up to 4x/week so I can have another day of eating. That helped both mentally and in terms of progress.

Another thing? Trying to focus more on the eccentric. As it is, I do control the eccentric, but I don’t CARE about the eccentric, if you will. Basically lowering the weight is just something I have to do so I can lift the weight again. I mean, we ask “do you even lift?” we don’t ask “do you even lower?”, y’know? It’s about lifting, not lowering. BUT the eccentric can have a pronounced effect on mass building. Again, it’s a cut so I don’t expect to build mass, but I need to do everything possible to preserve it. Basically my approach is that the eccentric is something I do so I can get back to the concentric. Well, now I need to make the mental shift — and stick with it — that the concentric it something I do so I can get back to the eccentric. It won’t really take anything away from the concentric, but it will make sure I put more into the eccentric and squeeze more out of it.

Bunch of ideas floating in my head. Things are starting to gel.

5/3/1-based program

  • Bench Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 105 x 5
    • 105 x 5
    • 130 x 5
    • 130 x 5
    • 155 x 5
    • 155 x 5
  • Incline DB Press
    • 50e x 10
    • 50e x 10
    • 50e x 10
  • Cable Rows
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 12
  • Shrugs
    • 205 x 15
    • 205 x 15
  • Rope-handle Pressdowns
    • 65 x 12
  • EZ-Bar Curls
    • 65 x 12
    • 65 x 12

2016-11-28 training log

Taking this week as a deload. Normally I’d be going into the 2nd part of a 6-week cycle, but given the shoulder/arm issues I figured a deload week would be wise. I want to finish the year on a good note.

That said, squatting today went well. While I still have a ways to go to get the level of mobility needed for false grip and truly straight wrists, I continue to work towards it. Even tho I don’t have that ideal setup yet, I push myself into it as far as I can to work on the stretch. What I noticed today is while my wrists were still somewhat bent, I’m getting more of an angle where my elbows are behind me — think arms more parallel to the ground than perpendicular. Is this ideal? I see so many different takes on “ideal squat form” that who knows. But what I CAN say is this is doing one thing I want, which is ensuring the bar weight is NOT being supported by my arms; there’s no way I could press the weight off me. The arms/hands for sure are keeping the bar in place on my back, but are not truly supporting the weight.

As a result, I felt NO aggrevation of the shoulder/arm issues today. Granted the weights were light and usually the pain doesn’t show up until later, but sometimes it shows up when things are light because I’m hitting things just right¬†– well, really just wrong.ūüėČ So, this is good! I’ll continue to work on the mobility aspects, but in the meantime I’ll take “reduction of pressure” as a good thing too. I mean, ultimately that is how things should be when I get the proper grip, y’know? Just not as acute.

What will be more telling will be tomorrow’s bench session. It’ll be light, but the past couple bench sessions have aggrevated things right from the get go, so we’ll see.

5/3/1-based program

  • Squats
    • bar x whatever
    • 135 x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 160 x 5
    • 160 x 5
    • 195 x 5
    • 195 x 5
  • Romanian Deadlift
    • 165 x 10
    • 165 x 10
  • Hyperextensions
    • BW x 12
    • BW x 12
  • Crunches
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
  • Standing Calf Raises
    • 80 x 12
    • 80 x 12

Sunday Metal – Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden’s “Speed Of Light”

It’s dangerous to go alone‚Ķ in Austin

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Police are concerned about a trend they are seeing in Austin’s Entertainment District: criminals targeting people walking by themselves.

Police said many of the victims are walking to and from their cars and not paying attention.

“We see both male and females walking by themselves in high crime areas, they’re looking down on their phones because they’re texting, their heads aren’t on a swivel, they’re not situationally aware of what’s going on around them – if people are following them,” said Austin police Senior Patrol Officer, Pedro Loureiro.

full story (h/t Michael Cargill)

Robbery. Assault.

Many stories here in Austin of women jogging alone, with ear buds in, and being sexually assaulted.

Of course, this is talking about Austin’s Entertainment District. To me, that violates Farnam’s Law about not going to stupid places (as part of the way to avoid trouble).

But take it for what it is people: growing trend of crime and violence in Austin.

And much of it is preventable:

  • Don’t be alone.
  • Don’t have your nose in your phone.
  • Don’t have ear buds in.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: have your head up and paying attention.
  • Avoid stupid places. If you must be in a stupid place, see the above 4 points.

 

 

2016-11-25 training log

Lifetime PR set!

Pressed (overhead) 170 lb. for 3 reps today. My previous best was 165… some time ago for 1 rep, then 2, and about a month ago I did it for 5 reps. So all PR’s in and of themselves, but 170 makes for a place I’ve never been before. And extra cool I did it for 3 reps.

I wonder if I could have gotten 4. A couple problems. First, I was very excited. I knew as I put up 135 then 155 that 170 was going to happen easily. Good confidence going in. But then as I pressed, I just got happy and excited and lost focus.ūüôā So second, my bar path was not very efficient. I doubt I’d have gotten more than a 4th rep, and I might have even been able to grind out the 4th. But, this isn’t about grinding.

All in all, felt quite happy. Press is one of the hardest movements for me to progress on, so moving ahead like this really makes me happy.

What was extra nice was my arm/shoulder pain not being much of an issue. It’s there, but didn’t get in the way nor get all that bad today. One thing I wonder about is I was watching a video:

Start around 6:45. All those arm/shoulder things. No WAY am I as flexible as Meg, but it’s good stuff and I’m working it into my warmup. And I’m not sure if it was in that video or some other one, but basically a weighted stretch. Think about standing up, then letting your back “curl” down (i.e. not a flat back), towards touching toes. Then I just held an empty bar in my hands and let it dangle. Basically it’s opening up my lower back and pulling my shoulders forward some, with just a little bit of tension. I would just dangle like this, then maybe “roll” up my spine into a fully-upright position (still letting the bar just hang), then roll down and hang there. Boy, I really felt stretch in my rotator cuff muscles like you wouldn’t believe. REALLY good stuff. I’ve done various stretches that “pull” my arms and shoulders out, but for some reason this particular movement hit things differently and in a really good way. I did this in between every set of pressing today and well, don’t know if it helped with the pains, but it sure feels like a great thing to adopt.

Anyways…

So Pressing was awesome.

Arnold Presses took a different approach too. Think about this. When you think the Arnold Press you think about the “untwisting”. And so when you twist something like that, where do you think you initiate the movement from? The forearm/wrist, right? Well, when I started to do Arnold’s again a few weeks ago, I took a cue from exrx.net to instead think about shoulder abduction instead of forearm pronation. Great thing, and if you focus that way it makes a difference. Today I added another change: to think about pressing upwards not by “pressing” – which will involve a lot of triceps – but instead think about lifting up by “rotating” from the shoulder. So in that bottom position it’s just anterior deltoid and upper back muscles contracting. Letting THAT be what raises the upper arm, kinda like a crane. Don’t think about actually pressing, y’know? Makes a big difference.

Chest-supported DB rows continue to be cool. As long as I keep it light and really work the back — again, I’m not pulling, I’m contracting the back, shoulder muscles, etc. moving from the elbows, etc.. Huge difference.

All in all, good stuff today. Just felt great. +10% day.

Thank you Thankgiving Apple Pie.ūüėČ

That all said, I am going to break from the 6-week pattern and take next week as a deload for the sake of my shoulders/arms. I will still hit the gym, just going light and reduced. Then 1 more cycle, 1RM testing with hopefully some new lifetime PR’s, and then… cutting.

5/3/1-based program

  • Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 70 x 5
    • 90 x 5
    • 110 x 3
    • 135 x 5
    • 155 x 3
    • 170 x 3 (3RM PR – lifetime best)
  • Arnold Press
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 6
  • Chest-supported DB Row
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 10
  • Straight-arm Lat Pulldowns
    • 60 x 12
    • 60 x 12
    • 60 x 10
  • Cable Lateral Raises
    • 20 x 15
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 10
  • Machine triceps Press
    • 85 x 15
    • 85 x 15
    • 85 x 12
  • DB Curls (alternate, neutral-to-supinated hand while curling)
    • 35e x 12
    • 35e x 11
    • 35e x 8